One of the annoyingly frequent changes to the immigration rules has just been issued and can be found here. These sometimes come out as often as fortnightly, and I can remember a number of occasions when they have been so ill conceived they’ve had to withdraw them immediately. They once accidentally abolished the working holiday maker scheme by deleting Appendix 3 of the rules (akin to a Homer moment of “What if I press this big red button? D’oh!”) and they also once forbade fiance(e)s (ugh, I hate that word) from extending their stay as spouses – the entire purpose of the fiance(e) (D’oh!) category. All this incompetence just creates work for immigration lawyers, so I shouldn’t really complain.
This latest Statement of Changes comes into effect on 30 June 2008. It is mostly concerned with implementing parts of the Points Based System. The rest of Tier 1 is coming into being, which means entrepreneurs, investors and post-study work, i.e. the replacement for IGS and Fresh Talent. Interestingly, there is no requirement for existing leave at the time of an application for leave to remain in these categories, which marks a significant and very welcome change in approach. Illegal entrants are barred, but it simply says that an applicant must have or have last been granted leave in certain categories. That leaves the door open for overstayers to apply, although I believe the policy will be not to accept applications outside 28 days other than in exceptional circumstances.
Lastly, the various concessions on the no return rule are being incorporated into the immigration rules as follows in two new paragraphs:
320(7C) Paragraph 320(7B) shall not apply in the following circumstances:
(a) where the applicant is applying as:
(i) a spouse, civil partner or unmarried or same-sex partner under
paragraphs 281 or 295A,
(ii) a fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner under paragraph 290,
(iii) a parent, grandparent or other dependent relative under paragraph 317,
(iv) a person exercising rights of access to a child under paragraph 246, or
(v) a spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner of a refugee or person with Humanitarian Protection under paragraphs 352A, 352AA, 352FA or 352FD; or
(b) where the individual was under the age of 18 at the time of his most recent breach of the UK’s immigration laws.
320(11) [leave should normally be refused] where the applicant has previously contrived in a significant way to frustrate the intentions of these Rules. Guidance will be published giving examples of circumstances in which an applicant who has previously overstayed, breached a condition attached to his leave, been an Illegal Entrant or used Deception in an application for entry clearance, leave to enter or remain (whether successful or not) is likely to be considered as having contrived in a significant way to frustrate the intentions of these Rules.
There are no changes to the visa officer guidance yet, but the new rules suggest that changes will be made at some point to provide more concrete examples. That would certain be helpful to some of the people who have left comments on this blog!